This article is about a girl called Hima Das alias Dhing Express who in her early days ran barefoot since she had no shoes. Today she has her name engraved on one of the World’s best-branded shoes – Adidas. On 12 July 2018, Hima Das won the 400 m final at the World U-20 Championships, clocking 51.46 seconds and becoming the first Indian sprinter to win a gold medal at an international track event. I hope “Bhaag Hima Bhaag” which means “Run Hima Run” a tweak of the popular phrase of Milkha Singh’s “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” will apt her.
Hima Das is an Indian sprinter from Dhing town in Nagaon district in the state of Assam and that is why she is nicknamed as “Dhing Express”. Born on 09 Jan 2000 to parents who were farmers, Hima Das was not so fortunate to spend money on her athletics training or to pursue sports as her career. But she was so interested in sports that she played football, kabaddi and would run barefoot in the muddy fields of Dhing. She also worked on the farm along with her parents.
She dreamt of being a part of the Indian Football team before she was spotted by Nipon Das, who later became her coach. “She was wearing cheap spikes but she won gold in the 100 and 200. She ran like the wind. I hadn’t seen such a talent in ages’, says Nipon. On his insistence, she shifted to Guwahati. It was not so easy to convince her family who had no much exposure to the outer world but Hima Das managed to convince them and moved to Guwahati. She started training hard.
The better infrastructural facilities at Guwahati helped her tremendously yet those days were not easy for Hima. There was always a monetary crunch and she had to live in a rented room. Moreover, there used to be leakages during monsoon. Nothing could stop Hima from reaching the race track on time. She was determined and this impressed her coaches.
Hima’s first competitive race was the Inter-district meet in Sivasagar, Assam. Within 18 months after her first race, she won her first track gold medal in the 400-meter final at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland which made her the first Indian women to achieve the feat.
And then within a month’s time, Hima won the following international medals,
- July 02, 2019; she won 200m gold in Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland.
- July 07, 2019; she won 200m gold at the Kutno Athletics Meet in Poland.
- July 13, 2019; she won 200m gold at the Kladno Athletics Meet in the Czech Republic.
- July 17, 2019; she won 200m gold in the Tabor Athletics Meet Czech Republic.
- July 20, 2019, she won 400m gold in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
With an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Hima Das is set to create her own legacy.
Let us support the 19-year-old young athlete to bring glory to the nation. Bhaag Hima Bhaag.
“The only thing I fear is time. I am not running after gold medals, I am running after time. And once I get that, gold medals will run after me. When I am on track, I am a different person. All I know is that I need to run. The people around me could be Olympian gold medalists. But I don’t take tension. If I do, how will I run my race?”
– Hima Das